Not Very Welcoming: A Survey of Internationally Educated Nurses Employed in Canada

Linda McGillis Hall, Cheryl Jones, Michelle Lalonde, Gillian Strudwick, Blaire McDonald


Countries around the world are struggling to cope with a shortage of nurses and are increasingly relying on internationally educated nurses to fill the gap. Internationally educated nurses represent 9% of the Canadian nursing workforce, but this is expected to grow as the shortage continues. This study aimed to identify and understand the experiences of internationally educated nurses who came to Canada to seek nursing work. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of a random sample of internationally educated nurses was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the survey responses. The survey also included an open-ended question about experience with the move to Canada to work as a nurse. Responses to the open-ended question were content analyzed and triangulated with the survey data. Results: A total of 2,107 internationally educated nurses responded to the study (47% response rate). Most were female (95%) and married (80%), and almost half were from the Philippines (49%). Professional (e.g., salary & benefits, 60%) and personal (e.g., quality of life, 56%) reasons drove migration to Canada, but 76% reported no recruitment incentives, and most (56%) relied on friends and family for information about nursing in Canada. Significant barriers to practicing in Canada included the licensure exam (75%), and obtaining information about different types of practice in Canada (56%). Conclusions: The findings from this study provide important information about internationally educated nurses’ perceptions and experiences of coming to Canada to obtain work in nursing. Improving the means for seeking employment by overseas nurses is a key area that regulatory agencies, health managers and policy leaders need to understand and address. Strategies to improve the barriers nurses face, particularly those related to licensure are important considerations.


nurses, internationally educated nurses, nursing shortages, nursing licensure, personnel staffing, health workforce, human resources, migration

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